Over the last two years, Withered has established itself as one of the hardest working extreme metal bands in the States. The Atlanta, Georgia act’s blend of doom, drone, noise, sludge and black metal created with the subtle touch of a power sander has gained them spots opening for such black metal luminaries as Mayhem
, label mates Skeletonwitch, fellow Georgian’s Mastodon
and most recently Danzig
’s Blackest of the Black tour. Their third album Dualitas
helped bring some clarity to the group’s sound because both times I’ve seen them live they suffered from a murky mix.
For those like me who couldn’t make out what the hell Withered was playing, seemingly making speed for speed’s sake, the album title sheds a bleeding light on what the band is trying to accomplish. The ancient
Persian religion Zoroastrianism introduced the spiritual idea of duality to the world. It is an idea of opposing forces, i.e., good versus evil. Duality can refer to any two-fold system, usually the pairing of opposites.
Withered’s creation of the word “dualitas” obviously is rooted in the word duality, and may refer to their two-side tempos. The group could start a fire with no matches if wood were set in front of the blurry picking and drumming hands of the group. In other places, the pace slows to a standstill where the ringing chords are so slow to change; one can almost make a visual outline of each vibrating note.
“Extinguished With the Weary” and “Interlude” inject the album with a mechanized, fuzzed out noise. Both tracks signify a transition into a hellish plane or portal. The later track truly is a noisy interlude void of any vocals, while the former merely sets up a chaotic ride through blackened spheres, culminating in a doomed setting that might be achieved by a black-robbed, pentagram
. “Residue in the Void” moves in a backward motion, set forth through crater-punching slow chords and guitar harmonies. These parts nearly come to a stop, and isolated distortion less guitar notes indicate the band has hit its trough. winds back hitting a mid-paced groove that soon transforms into a face-blasting tempo.
Even when I can make out the notes Withered produces, the fast parts aren’t as interesting as the slow parts. Witnessing their live assault truly puts into perspective how fast drummer Beau Brandon and guitarists Dylan Kilgore and Mike Thompson are playing, but hearing a cleaned up version of the band on my home stereo still doesn’t make me feel these fast parts aren’t made only for the sake of speed. The slower sections have more texture, but each part works well when paired together. The album lives up to its name in that sense. There is surely no light to counter the darkness of Dualitas